Jeritilley A picture is worth a thousand words..

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Flags of Convenience

Thought for the day….”A true friend never gets in your way unless you happen to be going down.”

“The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings.”

There is an interesting story in the news in Norway at the moment about Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) overselling seats for the summer.   SAS has set up an Irish based division (SIAL)  and uses cheaper, Irish contracts to avoid Norwegian taxes.   But the plan seems to have backfired, as many staff have left the new Irish division because of lower pay and also having to work longer hours.    It is unfair that companies like SAS can use ‘flags of convenience’  to circumvent local procedures.   Same job, same aircraft and same routes, but different levels of salary for the same work, all because of flags of convenience. So SAS have been left in a position where they have sold many more seats than they have staff to operate because of a lack of staff.  I hope that all those passengers persue claims under the EU 261/2004 regulations.    The same thing happened in shipping previously, now it is spreading to other areas too.   Cheapest is not always best, and the same work should get the same pay.

Two colourful photos from Fiji for the photos today….

and another photo, a Fokker 100 aircraft seen here in Papua New Guinea, about to fly from Mount Hagen back to the capital Port Moresby.

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Houston – we have a problem

Thought for the day…”Happiness is good health and a bad memory.”

“Prosperity tries the fortunate, adversity the great.”   (Rose Kennedy).

You just have to feel sorry for the NASA astronaut who discovered recently whilst on a space walk that he had forgotten to put a memory card in his GoPro camera.    We have all done that, or have forgotten to recharge the camera batteries, but to be out in space on space walk and discover that you have no memory card in the camera must feel very bad, very bad.     And to make it even worse, the omission was even broadcast, the link for the video from NASA is here –

Back down on Earth, here is a photo from a religious even held in the Swiss town of Brig recently –

The Interlaken (Switzerland) to Lucern express train of the Zentralebahn arrives in Meiringen.

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Aviation variety…..aid flights in PNG and military flights in Switzerland

Thought for the day….”Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.”

“It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers.”

Two aviation photos today, the first from the highlands of Papua New Guinea, where the missionary aviation companies fly into the most incredible (and near impossible) airstrips on the hillsides and ridges.  One photo from a typical landing…with the aircraft on one of the flatter parts of the runway.   If you check on Youtube, you will see some great videos of the flying in this part of the World, it is extreme to say the least !  Camera for this photo was the Fuji X-T10.   The second photo today is from Switzerland, and from the town of Meiringen, where the Swiss Air Force has an important air base.  Seen here is an F-18 Hornet aircraft and in the rear of the picture the nose of a Northrop Tiger fighter jet.  Camera for this photo was the Fuji X-T20 coupled with the 100-400mm lens.

and another photo…a F-18 Hornet of the Swiss Army, seen here in the Meiringen Air Base.

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Censorship by Booking.com

Thought for the day…”Chocolate is ground from the beans of happiness.”

“The man who is swimming against the stream knows the strength of it.”

Free Speech.   Something that is very important, but something that is disappearing fast in Europe.   Political correctness has already gone far to far, but now the online travel agency (OTA)  Booking.com   is also at it.

I recently stayed in some accommodation in Zurich which I booked online via Booking.com         The property was not good (badly run, dirty and with poor facilities) with poor security.   Not only was the property not clean, but it appeared to have many problems, one of which was what appeared to be asylum seekers in the accommodation.   So after my stay, I wrote a TRUTHFUL review to help other people in deciding whether or not to book.    One of the things that I wrote in the review was that the property appeared to house asylum seekers.    I did not make any statements about the rights or wrongs of this, nor did I mention nationalities, skin colour or race.    No references were made to immigration policies or criminality, just a statement that there appeared to be asylum seekers housed in the property.

But Booking.com   refused to publish my review because I had used the words ‘asylum seekers’  which they said could cause offense to some some people.   I would argue that the words described (truthfully) a situation, and were just reporting what I had seen and experienced.   Despite emails to Booking.com   the review did not get published.     So it seems that Booking.com   also want to be politically correct, even if this means distorting the truth.

The result of this….I cancelled a lot of future bookings with Booking.com     and now try to book direct with hotels etc. where this is possible.  I am not going to have Booking.com   tell me what I can and cannot say in a review.   It also makes me think that the other reviews on their website may also have been edited too.    So if you are reading reviews there then be aware that the reviews may have been edited for suitability.    George Orwell’s   1984 is here, just a bit late.   Booking.com    is in the same group as Priceline.com    and Agoda.com

Today’s photo comes from Glendhu Bay on the South Island of New Zealand.    The valley in the photo was until recently one of the homes of the Canadian country-pop singer, Shania Twain.  Nearby is Mt. Aspiring National Park and the Southern Alps.

and another photo from the archives….a SRN-4 hovercraft seen here in Boulogne in France.  These hovercraft had a top speed of 154 km/h and crossed the English Channel in as little as 22 minutes.  The record is held by the hovercraft in this photo, the Princess Anne.

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The worm has turned (at least for today)

Thought for the day….”When your work speaks for itself, don’t interrupt.”

“A certain amount of opposition is a great help to a man. Kites rise against, not with, the wind.”

I recently flew with Lufthansa from Oslo via Frankfurt to Zurich.    Apart from the usual rush to get onboard and the usual problem to get space in the overhead luggage bins, the seats on the A320 seemed even closer than before.   But the real insult was the ‘meal’ that was served onboard.  This is what Lufthansa, one of the legacy airlines, served as the ‘meal’….

And not only that insult, but the coffee was served in micro size cups too (the watch is in the photos to give an idea of the small size) –

and the ‘dinner’ on the leg to Zurich was 20g, yes 20g of dry crackers.   Again, no refills of coffee offered, despite the small size.   I had paid an ADULT fare, yet was given these micro sized portions.   Can you believe 20g ??  Lufthansa have also been devaluing the air miles on flights too, so I wonder what is the point in paying extra to fly with the legacy carriers when the service has fallen this much???

BUT fast forward to my next trip to Zurich 3 weeks later.   I am lucky to be able to choose a lot of the time, so due to Lufthansa becoming less good, I chose the German Railways train instead.   What a breath of fresh air. No check in 1 hour before departure.   I could get onto the train carrying tubes of toothpaste, a Swiss army knife and liquids without anybody worrying.   The seats had lots of space.  I could take my own baggage (and be sure that it was going to travel with me on the same train).    The staff on the train were excellent, the coffee in the restaurant car good and in normal sized cups.    I had space to walk around, I had comfortable seats and there were films and TV programmes to watch on the DB entertainment channels.    Despite a much longer journey time, it seemed much faster than flying.  I arrived feeling good, relaxed and that I had enjoyed the journey.    We tend to forget that the train can be a great way to travel.    Just because air travel is fast does not mean that it is good, or that it is the only option.   The train down through Germany was so good that I am not considering using the train for many more future trips.    To quote a great British railwayman (Peter Parker) ..”this is the age of the train”.    Perhaps if airlines continue to pack people in and treat passengers as an inconvenience, then more and more people may discover the train.

No prizes for guessing where the photo below was taken…..yes, a souvenir shop !!   Typically Swiss.  Taken with the Fuji X-T20 camera together with the excellent 35mm F2 prime lens.

and another photo from the archives…..bright colours in Cape Verde Islands….

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Rich Norway but icy pavements

Thought for the day…”Every failure is a step to success.”

“There are many ways of going forward, but only one way of standing still.” (Franklin Roosevelt)

Today’s photo is of some rare winter sunshine in the Norwegian capital, Oslo.   One thing that you will notice if you visit Oslo in winter is how bad the Norwegians are at coping with snow, even in the capital.    For some reason, the arrival of snow in WINTER seems to surprise Norwegians, leading to travel chaos.    It is also very surprising that the local council in Oslo seems to be so bad at treating the pavements.  On some days, walking around is extremely dangerous due to ice on the streets, yet the Norwegians seem very bad at treating the pavements.  Compared with cities such as Helsinki in Finland, Oslo is a long way behind.  So why is it that the arrival of snow causes so many problems in a country that should be used to it?    As most of the country lies above 60 degrees north (and some parts of it are over 70 degrees north)  then snow and ice should not be a surprise to them, but it is.   And with all the money that rich Norway has, then why are the pavements so dangerous because the local councils have not cleared or treated them??  It is another surprise in a country that many think of as modern and advanced.   As an example of how much money Norway has, the Opera House seen in the photo below cost around 4.1 BILLION Norwegian kronor, or about USD 700 million.  Just to the left of the Opera house, the large new building being built is a new library.  Estimated cost of that is 1.8 BILLION Norwegian Kronor.    So, with all this money, why are the pavements being neglected when it is icy ???

and another photo from the archives….the legs have it…

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Words of Wisdom – a poem for some thought

Thought for the day…”The whole point of getting things done is knowing what to leave undone.”

“It is the set of the sails, not the direction of the wind that determines which way we will go.”

Something different today…a poem.   Cannot remember where I got it from, not my work of course, but the words are very good –

When as a child I slept and wept,
Time crept.
When as a youth I laughed and talked,
Time walked-
When I became a fullgrown man ,
Time ran.
An older as I daily grew,
Time flew.
Soon shall I find in travelling on:
Time gone.

_____________________________________________________________________

Winter is a great time to sort out the photos, so here is one from a time back, love the great Fuji colours in it.   A good photo needs good light, and the light was perfect for this photo, bright but not too strong.

and another photo from the archives….some market colour…

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Overcrowded New Zealand – record tourist arrivals mean crowded resorts.

Thought for the day “The finest steel has to go through the hottest fire.” (Richard Nixon)

“Laughter is the sensation of feeling good all over and showing it principally in one place.”

One of the problems at the moment is that New Zealand is getting too many tourists, resulting in overcrowding and an experience that is far from the idea that many people have of NZ.  With over 3.6 million tourists a year now (versus a population of 4.7 million), the country just cannot comfortably cope with the large numbers of tourists.  Queenstown for example, often called ‘The Adventure capital of the World’   has a population of around 16 000 locals but receives over 2.5 MILLION tourists a year (try finding a local person in Queenstown !) and the airport has plans for a 2nd terminal to handle up to 5 MILLION tourists a year (remember just 16 000 locals).    Part of the problem is that airfares to NZ are incredibly cheap at the moment, less than half the price that they were a few years ago.   Flights from Europe to NZ are being offered for around 500 euros return for the 18 000 km trip, with specials sometimes below 400 GBP return.   So whilst NZ is breaking records every month for tourist arrivals, the country is suffering, with overcrowded national parks, fully booked accommodation and crowded tourist towns.   Cheap airfares are not always a good thing.

One of my older photos here, but a historic one showing the now bankrupt Air Berlin.   Seen here at full power climbing out of Innsbruck Airport in Austria on a winters Saturday.  Now Air Berlin are history.

and another photo from the archives…deep thought on the face of this man…..

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Walking and texting, driving & texting, should be banned – moan for today.

Thought for the day…”Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.”

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”

Are you one of those people who walk down the street with their head permanently fixed on their mobile phone??   I have given up moving out of the way for these people who walk with no regard for anybody else who is walking towards them.    Numerous videos on Youtube of people who have walked into fountains and off piers whilst they used their mobile phone.   Even worse are those people who you see cycling and driving whilst texting at the same time.   Asking for trouble.       The trend seems to be getting worse in cafes and restaurants too, where the mobile phone is THE centre of attention.     Full marks to the cafes and restaurants who are now trying to restrict the use of mobile phones.    One bar in Pembroke, New Zealand has a sign up saying “we do not have internet, TALK to each other “.   Let us hope that more cafes and bars follow suit.

And the photo today is from Sydney, Australia, where there used to be an ex-Russian MiG 15 fighter that you could go flying in.  Not much space in the cockpit !!   Despite being an early jet fighter, it could fly at over 1000 km/h and it could fly up to 2500km.  It could also climb to over 50 000 feet/15500m.

and another photo from the archives….sailing boats line up to start a race…..

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The Worm Has Turned.

Thought for the day…”If moderation is a fault, then indifference is a crime.”

“Power is like being a lady… if you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.” (Margaret Thatcher).

When I was 16 years old, I would always shop around for the cheapest (as students do), with little thought for quality or service.   But now it is the opposite.    I cannot understand why Ryanair (which is so often on the internet or newspapers for cancelling flights or upsetting passengers) is still in business.   There are so many people who will automatically go for the cheapest airline ticket, with no thought about quality or service.   Ryanair can upset thousands of passengers, yet still makes large profits.  When an airline upsets me (and many have) then they lose my business for good.  I vote with my feet.   Plenty of airlines out there, and those that mistreat passengers do not deserve business.  But why do people keep flying with Ryanair?    Cheap is not always good.    Service costs money to provide, but by paying more, you can often avoid problems.    Airlines such as Singapore Airlines are not the cheapest, but the service levels and reliability (and inflight experience) are FAR better.  If more people voted with their feet then average service levels would go up, as airlines such as Ryanair and Air Asia would be out of business.  Same thing with the airlines who are now putting 10 across seats into their Boeing 777 aircraft.  If more people refused to fly on these cramped aircraft then the airlines would be forced to go back to 9 across.  But too many people want the CHEAPEST.   But some of us are saying no, and are voting with our feet/money.

A photo from Aruba, in the Southern Caribbean for the photo today..

and another photo from the archives…beautiful coastline around Antigua, Caribbean……

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